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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Silence of the Lambs Retrospective

"That finger fondle is the most terrifying part of the movie; it literally sends a chill through my body every time I view it. Knowing what heinous acts he had committed, I felt very protective of Clarice and that is a testament to Foster's brilliance. I still believe the Oscar should have been split in half (Geena and Susan), but Foster's win here is more justified than The Accused."- NewMoonSon

"I do agree that the movie is well made, but it's about serial killers. Not everyone's cup of tea.." - Devon

 

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Entries in Best Actor (163)

Thursday
Feb112016

Best Actor: The Year of the Ham

As noted by the recently departed Alan Rickman on his BAFTA win for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves "Subtlety isn't everything." As far as Oscar is concerned, this year Best Actor was go big or go home. Take a look the leading men outside the bubble and you'll find mostly nuanced performances like those from Michael B. Jordan, Tom Courtenay, and Tom Hanks with their scenery unchewed. Rewarding more broad work has made this the Year of the Ham.

Some of the bigger choices have been more welcome than others in this field, so let's have some fun assessing the hammage:

Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Clearly the most guilty of going big for its own sake, Cranston's nomination leaves quite a sour taste in your mouth. The performance feels built upon arched shoulders and mustaches, even if Cranston is a game actor admirably going along with the film's schlocky tone. It's not just the scenery getting chewed, but the script, the costumes, the camera, and poor Diane Lane. It's so hammy, he even shows us his hams in a prison scene.
Level of Ham: SPAM - some people like it? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Matt Damon - The Martian
Here's a role that actually calls upon the actor to be a ham. Matt Damon gets to use more of his natural charm than he has in anything outside of the Ocean's franchise and spends much of his performance breaking the fourth wall. He leans in on the nerd humor that's heavy on puns and dirty words, but thankfully never goes full broski. Everything lands, including his unexpected emotional moments, but this a performance playing right to the crowd. The visible hams are an obvious emaciated stunt double.
Level of Ham: Honey-Baked - generally pleasing to everyone

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Wednesday
Feb102016

Silence of the Lambs Pt 3: Quid Pro Quo

image via FangoriaTeam Experience is revisiting 1991's Best Picture, Silence of the Lambs for its 25th anniversary.

In Pt 1 We met Clarice and Hannibal and heard about the horrifying Buffalo Bill case.
In Pt 2 The FBI's investigation picked up steam with the discovery of another victim and The Death's Head Moth. Finally, we met Buffalo Bill and his latest victim Catherine, now "the girl in the pit." When we left her she was a disembodied voice shouting for help. Why won't you answer me please?

Answers are coming but not without a price. 

Pt 3 by Nathaniel R

00:49:50 A smartly judged sharp cut takes us from the dark abyss of Bill's pit to the brightly lit FBI training facility. It's like blinking from too much sun when you leave a movie theater in the middle of the day. Though Silence of the Lambs deals with gruesomely complex psychology its binaries of good and evil are the lifeline for mass appeal I think. (Craig McKay was nominated for Best Film Editing, losing to JFK's collage and barrage of characters and information)

The students. Demme never gets any credit for his multi-ethnic casting but he was doing it long before people were hating on Hollywood for *not* doing it.

00:51:34 A news broadcast about Buffalo Bill at the training center attracts a large group of students. Turns out the Girl in the Pit is actually a US Senator's daughter so there's yet more pressure to get this case solved. Ardelia whispers to Clarice that it's so smart what the Senator is doing, repeating Catherine's name so often; get her would be killer to see her as human and maybe he'll show mercy.

00:51:35 Another jarring cut and we're back at the asylum. Chilton has had it with Clarice's secrecy. Jodie Foster's performance is so sharp in this movie. You can see our heroine getting bolder and more confident each time she steps out; her body language is more confrontational, too. [More after the jump...]

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Tuesday
Jan262016

Best Acting, Male Division: Personal Ballots & Oscar Charts

In the war of scene-stealing antagonists this year, Oscar Isaac's Nathan (Ex Machina) > Tom Hardy's Fitzgerald (The Revenant). We love both actors here at TFE and loved them before the rest of the web did (brag brag) but when it comes down to awards season you have to make tough choices.

That's just a handy way of saying Oscar and I go our separate ways more often than not in the acting categories but now both lists are available for your (hopeful) entertainment... 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
On the subject of category placement antagonists are often tricky. They definitely move the plot -- neither The Revenant or Ex Machina can function without these devious men, but often you can see either argument for lead or supporting. While Ex Machina arguably has three leads being such a chamber drama I occasionally relax the soapbox for performances that straddle the divide. A recent rewatch of Ex Machina confirmed that Oscar Isaac would make whichever shortlist we put him in (and I'd switched him back and forth during the year in drafts). It's such an inventive approach to a thoroughly imagined character so I tossed the dice and supporting he went. Now watch him tear up this fucking dance floor...

Only one of Oscar's men makes my own personal ballot (just posted) with apologies to Mark Rylance who I thought would place but he fell in the dread sixth spot! It happens. I've completed the Oscar chart as well and included trivia for this golden sausage party. Speaking of sausage parties... I think this is the first male Oscar lineup ever in which ALL the men have gone full frontal in other movies. Weird, right? It's an exhibitionist group this year. This only occurred to me to check because I was a big fan of Intimacy (2001) back in the day which starred Mark Rylance and everyone knows that Sly starred in a porno before Rocky (1976)

The charts also include our "How'd they get nominated" fun. So here's a sample -- the Tom Hardy in The Revenant edition: 

25% Leo's bro power pulls his main men in w/ him
21% Spicy Bait: Villains prioritized in this category 
20% Timing. 'The Revenant' was the shiniest new toy
15% Everyone wishes they could have punched Iñárritu in the face
10% Performance - they like 'em BIG to shake up slow epics (see also: The Zeéeeee in 'Cold Mountain')
9% 'Mad Max Fury Rd'

P.S. I should not that though Hardy didn't make my top 12 in supporting I appreciate his go for broke attempts to save The Revenant from its own grandiose self-importance with a little cured ham.

Matt Damon a nominee at both the Oscars & the Film Bitch AwardsBEST LEADING ACTOR 
Given the weirdly unanimous "meh" factor that Oscar's shortlist has produced in audiences, at least on the web, it's hard to imagine it coming to be at all. But then you remember the media complicity in producing these sorts of safe groupings of all-stars whether or not people were actually hugely impressed with their work. Oscar produced a list of five major players who unfortunately could have been nominated based on the roles themselves before anyone saw the work (always a problem!). You've got your reigning Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), your mega stars (Leonardo DiCaprio & Matt Damon), and your highly-revered thespians (Bryan Cranston & Michael Fassbender) with all but one of them (Damon) playing real life people. That's the baitiest of bait to awards types -- not just Oscar! --  though after 15 years of covering movies and awards seasons I still can't fathom why playing someone who really exists/existed is so much more likely to be lauded than creating a character from scratch with only the screenplay, director and your imagination to guide you. 

But anyway that's Oscar's list. Only two of them survive to make my personal ballot and I had to correct some category campaign problems too to put Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) where they belonged. Since DiCaprio's fans can be quite touchy I should note that he's solid, as ever, in The Revenant. He's locked up to win the Oscar finally but sadly the film just isn't asking very much of him, emotionally, beyond grief and anguish which he's been playing with minor variations for at a dozen years now. Sorry Oscar campaign narrative but tough physical working conditions and weird diets ≠ acting triumph. 

Saturday
Jan232016

Links: Dolls, Dancers, Disney, and Agent Scully

Some links as we hole watching movies and writing future articles during the blizzard...

John August on torrenting the Oscars
MNPP remembers 5 great experiences at New York City's historic Ziegfeld Theater (about to close). Oh the memories
Boy Culture a documentary about the dancers from Madonna's classic Truth or Dare film / Blonde Ambition tour to premiere at Berlinale
Deadline new projects for JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year) including a remake of that extremely tense Austrian film The Robber - good luck topping the adrenaline of the original

Awards Daily Lady Gaga will perform "Til It Happens to You" at the Producers Guild gala
Pajiba Charlie Cox has not yet been invited to Marvel's Infinity Wars. He is waiting impatiently
Fandor breaks down the Best Actor race
Salon talks up Tori Amos's "Boys for Pele" (my favorite of her records) on its 20th anniversary
Interview Magazine talks to the "unusually busy" Gillian Anderson about her recent roles
Vanity Fair on Gillian Anderson fighting for wage equality on X-Files reunion
• Deadline a list of hot actors everyone wants for pilot season. Whenever I read about pilot season I realize how little I understand about the strange flickering alien world of television. Where people can even have whole careers without anyone seeing their work (with the amount of pilots that don't make it to series) How can the same actors be wanted for every drama? No actor is right for every role.

Disney & Girls
• Bloomberg Business how Hasbro snatched Disney's all powerful Princess line of dolls away from Mattel. They also got facial adjustments. Terrifyingly Hasbro promises to make the Disney Princesses even more ubiquitous than they already are. This article even has the story reenacted by dolls (with Avengers cameos naturally) in a video
• Sweatpants and Coffee Ooh i knew Disney was throwing up smokescreensto distract us. Turns out toymakers were 'specifically directed' to exclude Rey from toylines due to her gender! It wasn't from "secrecy" as they tried to peddle earlier. #WheresRey
Comics Alliance ...but Black Widow will be part of the toyline from Captain America: Civil War (with a new costume)
i09 has an interesting piece on the story work behind Zootopia and how the secondary female character, a bunny named Judy Hopps, took over the leading role from the male fox who was originally its protagonist.

Friday
Jan222016

Michael Caine Just Like All of Us: Assumes Leo Will Win Oscar

Dancin' Dan here with your latest Best Actor Oscar news.

In an interview with with Britain's Radio 4, the venerable two-time Oscar winner dared to step in the #OscarsSoWhite quagmire (let's just not go there, shall we?), asking people to be patient "Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar."

More importantly, he reminded everyone about the best part of not being nominated: You don't have to attend the ceremony.

24 hours on an aeroplane and I've got to sit there clapping Leonardo DiCaprio. I love Leonardo, he played my son in a movie, but I'm too old to travel that far and sit in an audience and clap someone else.

And even more importantly, he said aloud what everyone else knows but have mostly refrained from saying out loud: Leonardo DiCaprio is winning the Best Actor Oscar this year. Not that he's voting for Leo, or that this feels like Leo's year, but that he IS winning.

And certainly it seems like Leo's to lose. Who could pose a serious threat to the raw bison liver-eater?

 

Thursday
Jan212016

Oscar in Panic Mode. This Rarely Ends Well...

Readers I'm getting nervous. I love the Oscars. Ever since I saw the shiny gold man on a TV guide cover as a little boy and was all "what is that?" I've been hooked. So their history means a lot to me.

It's actually because of that history that it's fun as well as uplifting to chart their progress over the years in dealing with diversity -- and there has been a lot of progress no matter what the current cultural rage would imply. It's been a thrill to see the "first this" and "first that" over the years. 

But this year things are getting ugly. The Academy often makes terrible mistakes when they're criticized (note all the 'we can't make up our minds' volatility with the rules following The Dark Knight year) and now they'll be meeting on possible rules changes including returning to 10 Picture nominees. President Cheryl Boone Isaacs promises "big changes". Some people are even floating acting fields as big as 10 nominees. This is probably the worst idea I've ever heard in relation to the Oscars. [More...]

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